PARIS (Reuters) -- Nissan is not planning to issue new shares to reduce Renault's stake in the Japanese automaker, a Nissan spokesman said today.
Japan's Nikkei newspaper reported on Monday that Nissan was open to issuing new shares to "water down" Renault's 43.4 percent stake in Nissan.
The paper also said Nissan is seeking to raise its stake in Renault to 25 percent or higher from 15 percent to block interference in the alliance by the French government, Renault's biggest shareholder. Under Japan's corporations law, Renault would lose its 43.4 percent share of voting rights in Nissan if the French automaker became at least a quarter-owned by its Japanese partner, the Nikkei said.
The paper said the moves were discussed at a Nissan board meeting on Monday.
The Nissan spokesman denied the Nikkei report. "Nissan has no plans to issue more shares," the spokesman said, adding that the company had "nothing more to announce" regarding the outcome of the Monday board meeting.
Nissan has been in a standoff with the French government, which in April increased its stake in Renault to 19.7 percent from 15 percent to secure double voting rights and keep its blocking minority.
Since Renault rescued Nissan from near-bankruptcy in 1999, the Japanese carmaker has outgrown its parent to account for two-thirds of combined vehicle sales and a bigger share of profit.
The Japanese government today urged Nissan and Renault to continue their alliance. "We would like Nissan and Renault to discuss ways to maintain their relationship," Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said, adding that the government would provide necessary support to facilitate this.
Renault's 43.4 percent in Nissan gives it a controlling majority in its Japanese partner. Nissan's 15 percent stake in Renault is non-voting.
Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn is fighting to maintain the 16-year-old alliance between the two automakers, which is held together by unequal cross shareholdings and Ghosn’s dual role.
Sources in October said Ghosn's second-in-command, Hiroto Saikawa, has drawn up plans for deep changes in the alliance, giving the companies equal weight in joint decisions. French government sources said the plan amounted to a "reversal of the balance of power within the alliance to the detriment of Renault."
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report